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Melvin Van Peebles Will Celebrate 80th Birthday w/ Surprise-Filled Tribute At Film Forum

by Tambay A. Obenson
August 11, 2012 11:38 AM
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The event is about a week and a half from today, August 21, so if you're in NYC, or plan to be, you're encouraged to purchase tickets now - $12.50 general. 


Filmmaker/Musician/Renaissance Man in Person!


The legendary Melvin Van Peebles will celebrate his 80th birthday with a surprise-filled tribute at Film Forum on Tuesday, August 21 at 7:30 pm.

"He didn't open doors; he blew them off the hinges." 1971's Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song crashed box office charts despite being an all-Black indie production before there was such a thing, became mandatory viewing for the Black Panthers, roiled nationwide controversy, and practically jump-started the whole Blaxploitation genre (even though the film itself was anything but). But its star and maker had already been an Air Force pilot, San Fran cable car gripman, novelist (author of five books... in French!), painter, sculptor, pioneer rapper, twice-Tony-nominated Broadway playwright, local news commentator, Wall Street trader, provocateur, you name it.

Hard to believe that Melvin Van Peebles did all of this – and much more – in a mere eight decades – and is still going strong. Last year, Van Peebles teamed up with members of the band Burnt Sugar to form his own group, Wid Laxative. (Son Mario describes Melvin's singing voice as "like a frog on crack").

On Tuesday, August 21 – his actual 80th birthday – the legend himself will be interviewed onstage by filmmaker Joe Angio, director of How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It), the 2005 documentary on Van Peebles, in an evening interspersed with film clips... and guaranteed surprises.

A private birthday party (invitation only) will be held following the event at City Winery (155 Varick St., corner Vandam St.), just a few minutes' walk from Film Forum. Van Peebles himself will be providing the entertainment, with his band Wid Laxative.

This special event has been produced by Bruce Goldstein, Film Forum's Director of Repertory Programming. Past "Evenings with…" produced by Goldstein for Film Forum have included tributes to Fay Wray, Eddie Bracken, Jules Dassin, Norman Lloyd, Farley Granger, Marge Champion, Geoffrey Holder & Carmen DeLavallade, Marni Nixon, Christopher Plummer, Jane Powell, and Leslie Caron.

Admission to this special event is $12.50, $7 for Film Forum members.

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More: Melvin Van Peebles

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  • Sean Forsythe | December 31, 2012 1:17 AMReply

    just found this on a youtube search!

    melvin's got a new video??

  • Derrick Owens | August 13, 2012 11:41 AMReply

    Questions: Can I purchase tickets online to attend both events? I've searched for a link but haven't spotted it.

  • Priss | August 13, 2012 2:19 AMReply

    It's great this is being done. He deserves this and more. If you ever want a kick, read those early books. I believe there are some translations available. He was quite the provocative author. I've always been a fan.

  • ALM | August 12, 2012 10:24 PMReply

    He definitely deserves to be honored. He is a legend.

  • DRT | August 12, 2012 11:10 AMReply

    Happy B'Day Mr. Van Peebles - I had the pleasure of meeting you in 98 at Sundance Film Festival and a few times after that. You always had the time to chat. Thanks.

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